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calculate energy usageElectricity costs can be significant in Southwest Florida, and if you would like to minimize your utility bills, the best way to start is by calculating your energy usage. Every appliance, light and electronic device has its own electricity requirements, and the first step in calculating your energy usage is determining what that figure is for each device.

Using the EnergyGuide Label

Many appliances and electronics, including large appliances like air conditioning systems, have a yellow EnergyGuide label that makes determining energy usage simple. For electrical devices, the label will list estimated yearly energy usage in kilowatt-hours, which are the same units used on your electricity bill. To determine a device’s monthly usage, simply divide that number by 12, and to determine its daily usage, divide by 365.

Using Wattage

If no EnergyGuide label is present, check the device for a label listing its electrical requirements, which is often found near the electrical cord. Many products will list the device’s wattage. To convert watts to kilowatts, simply divide by 1000. For example, a coffee maker that uses 800 watts would use 0.8 kilowatts of power. To find the kilowatt-hours used by a device, multiply the kilowatt rating by the number of hours the device is used daily. For example, the coffee maker that is rated for 0.8 kilowatts would require 2.4 kilowatt-hours of electricity a day when used for 3 hours.

Using Amperage

Some devices do not list wattage, so it must be calculated by multiplying amperage and voltage. For most devices, the voltage will be 120, though larger appliances may use 220 or 240 volts. A device that uses 5 amps at 120 volts would require 600 watts of power, while one that uses 0.5 amps would require 60 watts. Smaller devices may be rated in milliamps, which must be divided by 1000 to find the amps. Once the wattage is found, the kilowatt hours can be calculated, then simply add all your devices to calculate your total energy usage.

For help with calculating your energy usage, or reducing it, contact our team at Conditioned Air, serving Southwest Florida.

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houseplants improve air qualityMany of today’s building materials, furniture and flooring products contain potentially harmful chemicals that can off-gas for days, weeks or even longer after installation, and with homes that are highly insulated and tightly sealed to improve energy-efficiency, the effects of these chemicals on indoor air quality are significantly greater. In studies by NASA, the Associated Landscape Contractors of America and others, however, it has been found that common houseplants can help clean the indoor air, with as little as one plant per 100 square feet. While some only remove one or two chemicals, the best air-purifying plants can remove multiple chemicals.

Garden Mum

Also known as the Florist’s Chrysanthemum, this plant is effective at removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, ammonia, toluene and xylene from the air. All of these chemicals can be harmful in large amounts, causing symptoms like nausea or dizziness, serious illnesses, or even cancer.

Dracaena

Most types of Dracaena can remove benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air, while some, like the Red-Edged Dracaena, can also remove toluene and xylene.

Snake Plant

Requiring minimal care and only occasional watering, the Snake Plant is one of the most resilient air-purifying plants, and it can remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, toluene and xylene.

Peace Lilly

This flowering plant can remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, ammonia, toluene and xylene from the air, but it can also release pollen, which may be problematic for allergy sufferers.

Ficus

Also known as the Weeping Fig, Ficus plants can remove formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air, and some types can also remove benzene and trichloroethylene.

All these air-purifying plants should be used with care, as they can potentially be toxic to pets. Non-toxic alternatives, like Spider Plants, Boston Ferns or Bamboo Palms can remove formaldehyde, xylene and toluene, while others, like the Barberton Daisy, can remove benzene and trichloroethylene, allowing you to combine multiple plants for the best results.

To learn more about air-purification products and how they can work with your HVAC system to improve indoor air quality, talk to our HVAC experts at Conditioned Air, serving Southwest Florida.

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ductless air conditionerDuctless mini-split air conditioning systems are an efficient and effective way to add a cooling system to an existing home, an addition or even a new home. The advantages of a ductless system are numerous, but there are three key advantages that make them distinct from conventional systems:

Greater Efficiency

Ductless systems are extremely efficient, largely because they lack air ducts, which can waste up to 30 percent of the energy used for cooling through leaks or poor insulation. Many systems also feature variable-speed air handlers, inverter-driven multiple-speed compressors, improved coil designs and optional zoning systems that help to increase energy efficiency further. The latest models feature a seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER, of up to 22, compared to the federal minimum of 14 SEER for Southwest Florida.

Easy Installation

With an outdoor unit, one or more interior air handlers, and a few refrigerant and electric lines connecting them, ductless systems are easy to install. They require only a small 3 to 4 inch opening through a wall or ceiling to route the electrical and refrigerant lines, minimizing damage to your home and remodeling. In comparison, a central air conditioner or heat pump requires custom ducts to be fabricated, a centralized location for the interior air handler and evaporator, and several openings for electrical and refrigerant lines.

Optional Heating

Many ductless systems can reverse the refrigeration cycle during the winter, providing heating instead of cooling. This eliminates the extra cost of a separate heating system, which is only occasionally needed in Southwest Florida. With a multiple-room system, each zone can be adjusted to the perfect temperature for the occupants, winter or summer.

To learn more about the advantages of a ductless system, talk to our cooling experts at Conditioned Air today. We serve Southwest Florida, from Bradenton to Marco Island, and we have been providing quality, reliable HVAC services throughout the area since 1962.